I've considered myself a bit of a dork for quite some time now. I think I figured it out in seventh grade when I had that wonderful experience where your best friend dumps you for no good reason and you figure out who you want to be from there. Very life-changing, seventh grade. But honestly, I realized my true friends were ones whom I could count on, who liked me for me, and who I didn't have to pose for. I realized being popular meant I was acting like someone I wasn't, and that it was a stressful waste of time. If my friends were slightly dorky, too, it just meant I was among those who understood me. This was still true at my ten-year high school reunion when I got to see who had moved on and become their true selves and who was still stuck in high school mode.
My friend L and I figured out in college that we were about three very important steps away from being grade-A, five-star dorks: We liked that nerdy stuff but had enough social skills to move amongst regular people. As I put it, I like the occasional witty "Weird Al" Yankovic song... but I wouldn't go to a concert. I was psyched to see the LOTR (Lord of the Rings, for you cool kids) trilogy on opening night...but I didn't go to the midnight showing dressed in costume. There's a fine but important distinction. It's the reason I think I connected so well with Drew Barrymore's character in Never Been Kissed: I'd kind of been there.
We've all been there, on one side or another. The big question is, How do you live your life from there? Do you get enough self-confidence to embrace your inner dork, being true to yourself, or do you run with the cool crowd and live in the pressure-cooker? This doesn't actually change over time; it just rearranges itself into new patterns. Even my mother, about five years ago, was at a conference with her husband and the other wives ditched her to go shopping without her. Now, I can say that my mom is a terrific person and someone who would never do that to someone else, and those women were just spiteful and mean and immature. But it still didn't make her feel any better at that moment. What you have to remember is that if you're true to yourself, you can't go wrong. You'll have friends who love you for you, who are dorky themselves and know those Monty Python lines, too. It's also easier to say no when someone tries pressuring you to do something you don't want to.
I'm saying this partly to myself because right now it's 11pm on a Saturday night and I'm home alone, DF having met friends for drinks after dinner (which I said was perfectly OK). I opted to come home: I was tired and didn't plan to have any more to drink, so I figured I'd head back and get comfy. But I worry: Should I try to be more social? Wouldn't it be nice if I made the effort to stay out and chat and not head home to the confines of my house? DF, ever a wonderful man, told me that he admired that I have the strength to know when I want to stay and when I want to leave, and that I don't feel pressured to stay out just to stay out. I worry that I'm boring and don't try hard enough--which he vehemently denies being true. I've never been one to stay out late: In college I always got violently ill if I drank too much, and I just get to a point where I think, "OK, I've talked as much I want to talk, I've drunk as much as I want to drink, and this is no longer interesting." I can push myself if I want, but a lot of the time, I don't. When I'm done, I'm done. I just have to remember that this doesn't make me any less fun up to that point, and if anyone's going to condemn me for leaving before 4am, screw 'em.
I guess what I'm saying is that you should embrace your inner dork and bring it out to the surface, if it's who you are. Don't be afraid to be who you are. Again, I'm telling this to myself as well, because I'm going to wind up this post and still feel a little bad about being here and not being out. We all just have to remember that we make our own choices, and they should be our choices, not what someone else wants or thinks we should do.
Bring out your dork!